US 3781515 A
Thermal display including an air isolated integrated semiconductor circuit forming an array of semiconductor heater elements having different heights, widths and shapes joined by a metallic connecting pattern which extends out over the heating elements to interconnect selected ones of them and a PN junction isolated integrated semiconductor drive matrix for the heating element array positioned in the same plane as the heating element array. The PN junction isolated integrated semiconductor drive matrix and the semiconductor heating element array are concurrently formed in the same semiconductor substrate and the heating element array is air isolated to provide a high degree of electrical and thermal isolation for the heating element array while both are located in the same plane on a larger support. The thermally sensitive material on which a dynamic display is formed or on which a permanent display is printed is in direct contact with the monocrystalline semiconductor material of the heating element array and can be passed over the heating element array and the drive matrix.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
14 1 Dec. 25, 1973 United States Patent 1191 Morris, Jr. et al.
[ INTEGRATED HEATER ELEMENT ARRAY AND DRIVE MATRIX Primary Examiner-C. L. Albritton  Inventors: Marvin L. Morris, Jr.
T mC S A MR nT mm .A L m a h .w J p w l m7 U.
Dallas; Houston; Edward M. Ruggiero, Dallas, all of Tex.
Hermon L. Pope, J12,
Thermal display including an air isolated integrated semiconductor circuit formin g an array of semicon-  Asslgnee: g qf incorporated ductor heater elements having different heights,
a as, ex.
widths and shapes joined by a metallic connecting pattern which extends out over the heating elements to  Filed: Sept. 13, 1971 interconnect selected ones of them and a PN junction  App! 180454 isolated integrated semiconductor drive matrix for the Relat d US, A li ti D t heating element array positioned in the same plane as  Division of $61. No. 848,564 the heatmg element array- The PN junction isolated Aug. 8,
1969, Pat. No. integrated semiconductor drive matrix and the semiconductor heating elemen t array are concurrently nductor substrate and the y is air isolated to provide a h igh 52 US. 219/216, 219/501, 219/543, formed in the Same Semico heating element arra and thermal isolation for the heatwhile both are located in the same mwm Hf h ltl en mmn t r mm m a d.mpm O N01 35 :0 al. %W 0 1 H ,3 96., 0 6 027 19% 1 23 m m "r. "a "e S LM rm e w upport. The thermally sensitive madynamic display is formed or on which a permanent display is contact with the monocr printed is in direct ystalline semiconductor material of the heating element array and can be passed 5/ 23 over the heating element array and the drive matrix. 219/216 X 11 Claims, 11 Drawing Figures  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,495,070 2/1970 3,496,333 2/1970 Alexander et a]. 3,501,615 3/l970 Merryman et al Y PATENTEDnsczs 197a SHEE 2 of 5 PATEHTEQUEEZS i513 SHEET 3 [IF 5 I I l llll I I I I III I I I I I IIIII III, ig 7 I III I I I II n III I in III g I 9 ill Ill SHEE! u or 5 Fig, 6
PATENTED mew-192s Fig, 6
1 INTEGRATED :HEATER'EL'EMENT ARRAY AND DRIVE MATRIX This is a division of copending application Ser. No. 848,564, filed Aug. 8, 1969, now U.S. Pat. No. 3,631,459.
The present invention relates to thermal displays having an array of heater elements selectively energized to provide an information display on thermally sensitive material, and more particularly to an integrated semiconductor "array of heater elements having different :heights, widths and shapes, and a drive matrix therefor.
An object of the-present invention is to provide an improved and simpler thermal display.
A'n object of the present invention is to provide an integrated semiconductor circuit tailored to meet different electrical and thermal requirements useful for a thermal display.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide an improved and simpler method of fabricating an integrated semiconductor circuit useful for a thermal :display.
A more particular object of the invention is to provide a display font or printing head that is capable of producing more clearly legible print-outs or read outs. Specifically, it is an object to improve the continuity of diagonal lines and curved lines in alpha-numeric and graphic read-outs, print-outs, or other information displays.
Other-objects, features, and advantages of the invention may be best understood by reference to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like reference numerals indicate like 'parts and in which:
FIG. 1 illustrates an integrated semiconductor heater element array and drive'matrix;
FIG. 2illustrates an intermediate structure in the fabrication of integrated semiconductor heater element array and drive matrix of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 illustrates the interconnection pattern of the heater elements and drive matrix on the surface of the structure of FIG. 2;
FIG. '4 illustrates the interconnection pattern for external connection to the heater elements and drive matrix of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 illustrates the electrical circuit embodied in the integrated heater element array and drive matrix of FIG. 1;
FIGS. 6 through '10 illustrate the print-outs obtained with various print head configurations, including a standard 5 X 5 rectangular array compared with four examples-pf print heads illustrating the invention;
FIG. '11 is a plan view of a preferred thermal print head of the invention.
F l6. '1 illustrates a three by five heater element array of semiconductor mesas located within the window 3 and the drive matrix -4 over which thermally sensitive material is positioned to form a dynamic information display-of the type described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,323,241 by JIW. Blair et al. in which the described thermochromicmaterials are used or over which is passed a specially treated thermally sensitive material to form a perthe assignee of the present application.
A monocrystalline silicon semiconductor wafer 2 is mounted on a larger insulating support 1 which may be any suitable material, for example, ceramic, glass or sapphire, by way of an insulating adhesive having good thermal and electrical insulating properties such as epoxy.
Each heater element of the array comprises a monocrystalline semiconductor body in a mesa shape and contains a heater element formed therein at the underside of the mesa adjacent the support 1 so that when the heater element is energized, a hot-spot is formed at the top surface of the mesa to provide a localized dot on the thermally sensitive material above it. A group of selectively energized heater elements forms a group of dots on the thermally sensitive material defining a character or information representation displayed on the thermally sensitive material.
The mesas comprising the heater element array are air isolated from each other and joined by a metallic connecting pattern underneath the mesas between the semiconductor wafer 2 and the support 1 which pattern interconnects the heater elements in the mesas in the desired circuit configuration. The drive matrix for selectively energizing the heater elements and supplying the desired power to the heater elements is located in the semiconductor wafer 2 in the area generally designated as 4. The circuit elements forming the drive matrix are integral within the semiconductor wafer 2, PN junction isolated from one another and interconnected in the desired circuit configuration by a metallic connecting pattern underneath the wafer 2 between the wafer 2 and the support 1. The heating element array and the drive matrix are also interconnected in the desired circuit configuration by the metallic connecting pattern between the wafer 2 and the support 1.
The semiconductor wafer 2 is integral or solid except within the window 3 in which are located the air isolated heater elements and consequently the top surface of the semiconductor wafer 2 presents a good, more uniform support for the positioning or passing of the thermally sensitive material over the heater element array.
The metallic connecting pattern located between the semiconductor wafer 2 and the support 1 extends out into bonding pads located above the openings 5, 6 and 7 in the support 1 so that external connection can be made to these bonding pads through the openings at the underside of support 1. Whereas, the external connections are formed at the underside of support 1 and are removed from the thermally sensitive material located above the mesas. The metallic connecting pattern located between the semiconductor wafer 2 and the support 1 mechanically and electrically joins the air isolated mesas and electrically'connects them to the circuit elements of the drive matrix and is supported in the epoxy adhesive resting between the semiconductor wafer 2 and the support 1.
Each mesa contains a transistor-resistor pair which is selectively energized so that the power dissipated by the resistor causes the hot-spot at the top surface of the selected mesa. The transistor in each mesa provides an active control or amplifying function in the manner that the heat generated by it facilitates the creation of the hot-spot." Moreover, an active element in each mesa lessens the need for amplification of signals that would otherwise have to be provided externally to the heating element array and allows the heating element array to operate directly from low power driving sources.
3 The transistor-resistor pair in each mesa is illustrated in FIG. 5, transistor T 14 and resistor R 14 for example along with its associated drive circuitry, transistor T 29,
resistor Rain resistor R1329 and resistor R 29 for extransistor in the drive circuit).
Upon thesim ultaneous application of positive pulses at the input terminal I 29 and the terminal PG, the transistor T 29 is turned on, causing the voltage at the emitter of transistor T 29 to become more positive and trigger the transistor T 14 causing the hot-spot at the surface of themesa in which the transistor T 14 and resistor R 14 are located. The line PG is connected to all the transistors T 29, T 30 through the resistors R 29, R 30 in the manner that the simultaneous appearance of a positive pulse at PG and a selected one of the inputs I 29 .or I 30 causes the selected transistor T 29 or T 30 to turn on and in turn trigger the selected hsa ins m t.
In the example given, a three by five heating element array, there are 'mesas, a corresponding 15 transistor-resistor pairs T 14 R 14, T 15 R 15), a corresponding l5 drive transistors (T 29, T 30) and a corresponding 15 inputs I 29, l 30).'
The construction of the heater element array and the drive matrix of FIG. 1 may be better understood from the process of fabricating it.
Referring to FIG. 2, there'is illustrated an integral monocrystalline semiconductor wafer 2 of P type silicon. The. transistor-resistor pairs for the heating elements comprise diffused regions in the surface of the wafer 2 and are illustrated as T 1 through T 15 and respectively R 1 through R 15 located in the area designated 3. 8 illustrates the area which is to be a mesa shape. Whereas, each transistor T 15 for examplecomprises a diffused N-type collector region 9., a diffused P-type base region 10, and a diffused N-type emitter region. 11. Resistor R 15 for example comprises a diffused N'type region made at the same time as the N- type collector difiusion and is integral therewith so that one end of the resistor 15 is ohmically connected to the collector 9 internally of the semiconductor material.
The drive transistors T 16-T 30 each comprise an N- type diffused collector region, P-type diffused base region and an N-type diffused emitter region. Each drive transistor T 16-T 30 has associated therewith a collector resistor respectively Rcl6-Rc30- The collector resistors R 16-R 30 each comprise an N-type diffused region made at the same time as the respective collector diffusion of the drive transistor in the manner that one end of the collector resistor is integral with the collector of its associated drive transistor. Whereas, one end of the collector resistors Rcl6-RC30 are respectively connected internally of the semiconductor material to the collectors of the drive transistors T l6-T 30. The diffused resistors R 21- R25 have one end internally connected in the semiconductor. material respectively to one end of the diffused resistors R030, R 29, R 28, R 27 and R 26. The base resistors R M-R 30 are diffused P-type regions in the surface of the semiconductor wafer 2.
electrodes of the respective drive transistors T 16- T 30. The emitter resistors R M-R530 are diffused P-type regions in the surface of semiconductor wafer 2 and are to be connected to the emitter electrodes of the respective drive transistors T l6-T 30. A diffused N-type region in the surface of the semiconductor wafer surrounds each of the P-type diffused regions comprising the base and emitter resistors R M-R 30 and R M-R 30 in order to provide the desired P-N junction isolation between the circuit elements in the semiconductor material. Heavily doped N-type regions T lT l5 comprise conductive tunnels in the semiconductor wafer 2 for providing ohmic electric connection between the'base electrodes of the respective transistors T l-T l5 and the various circuit elements in the drive matrix. A heavily doped N-type diffused region T C provides a conductive tunnel in the semiconductor material. Three heavily doped N-type diffused regions PG are provided in the surface of the semiconductor wafer 2 respectively near the three groups of resistors R l6R 20 R1 16- R 20, R 2lR 25-R 21R 25 and R 26R 30- R 26-R 30. The P-N junction formed between an N-type tunnel and the subject P-type substrate isolates the tunnels from each other and from the other circuit elements. 7
The transistors, resistors, tunnels and isolating junctions are formed in the surface of wafer 2 utilizing the plane process in which an oxide film is thermally grown on the P-type silicon wafer of the desired resistivity by placing it in a furnace at an elevated temperature and passing an oxidizing agent over it. The resulting silicon dioxide film acts as a masking medium against the impurities which are later diffused into the wafer. Holes are produced in the oxide film to allow subsequent diffusion processes to form the transistor, resistor, tunnel and isolating functions. These holes which are patterns of the desired circuit elements, tunnels and isolating regions are produced by photolithographic techniques. Contacts and interconnections between the circuit elements are made by similar photolithographic techniques using, for example, evaporated aluminum over the oxide to form a metallic pattern connecting the circuit elements together and terminating in bonding pads for external connections. The connecting pattern comprises conductive strips on the oxide film extending into openings in the oxide film for providing the desired connections and can be formed in the manner described in co-pending US. Pat. application Ser. No. 645,539 filed June 5, 1967 entitled Method of Making Semiconductor Devices Jack S. Kilby which is assigned to the assignee of the present application.
The metallic connecting pattern formed on the oxide on the semiconductor wafer 2 is illustrated in FIG. 3. A large conductive ground plane designed G in FIG. 3 interconnects all the emitters of transistors T l-T 15 and interconnects one end of all of the emitter resistors Rgl6-Rg30, and are illustrated in FIG. 3 to show the place where the ground plane connects to these emitter resistors. The conductive strip VC interconnects one end of all the resistorsv R l- R 15 and one end of the collector resistors R 16- R 20. The conductive strip Vc interconnects the common terminals of the collector resistors RG21- R 30 (designated V in FIG. 2) and one end of the tunnel Tvc esignated V'c in FIG. 2). Conductive strip 36 connects the base of transistor T 15 to one d Qilb tunnel 91 a FQIlllllQ 92p 3 v nects the other end of the tunnel T to the emitter of transistor T 30 and to one end of the emitter resistor R 30. The conductive strip 38 connects the base of transistor T 14 to one end of the tunnel T ld and conductive strip 39 connects the other end of the tunnel T 14 to the emitter of transistor 29 and to one end of emitter resistor R 29. In a like manner, the bases of all the transistors T 1-T 15 are connected by way of the tunnels T L-T 15 to the emitters of transistors T 16-T 30 and the emitter resistors R M-R 30. Conductive strips 21-35 respectively connect to the bases of transistors 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 and to one end of their base resistors. The enlarged portions of 21-35 will later act as bonding pads for external connection and more specifically the inputs to selectively energize the heater elements. Whereas, the bonding pad 21 of FIG. 3 corresponds to the input I of FIG. 5 and the bonding pad 22 of FIG. 3 corresponds to the input I 29 of FIG. 5.
The other ends of the base resistors REM-R 30 are connected to the tunnels PG illustrated in FIG. 2 and the ends of these tunnels are interconnected by the conductive strip PG in FIG. 3. For example, the base resistor R 20 has its other end connected to the tunnel PG at the top of FIG. 2 by way of the conductive strip 41 illustrated in FIG. 3, the base resistor R 30 has its other end connected to the tunnel PG illustrated in the middle of FIG. 2 by way of the conductive strip illustrated in FIG. 3 and the base resistor R826 has its other end connected to the tunnel PG illustrated at the bottom of FIG. 2 by way of the conductive strip PG illustrated in FIG. 3. It should be mentioned that where a conductive strip crosses over a tunnel, for example, the conductive strip VC crossing over the tunnels-T 1T 10, the silicon oxide insulating layer on the surface of the semiconductor wafer insulates the conductive strip from the conductive tunnel so that there is no electrical interference.
Accordingly, the drive matrix being more complex and requiring more circuit elements than the heating element array occupies an area of the semiconductor wafer larger than that of the heating element array and is near the heating element array while the two are fabricated during the same process operations and subjected to the same environments. The need for external driving circuitry is eliminated and the connecting pathway reduced.
After the semiconductor wafer is processed and includes the heater element array and the drive matrix with the desired connecting pattern as illustrated in FIG. 3, the wafer is turned upside down and mounted on a larger insulating support 1 in accordance with the procedure described in co-pending U.S. Pat. application Ser. No. 650,821 by Edward M. Ruggiero, filed July 3, 1967, entitled Thermal Displays using Air Isolated Integrated Circuits and Methods of Making Same and assigned to the assignee of the present application. Whereas, a parting agent comprising photoresist material is selectively applied over the bonding pad areas designated by points 21-35, PG, R 30, V and G in FIG. 3. An epoxy adhesive is thenapplied over the semiconductor wafer on the metallic connecting pattern, the silicon oxide and the photoresist material. The epoxy adhesive adheres to the silicon oxide and the metallic connecting pattern but does not adhere to the photoresist material. The semiconductor wafer is then turned upside ds na drmw on the instil tinssq port 1 as illustrated in FIG. 1 with the bonding pads 311-35, V and G overlying the operiing 5, the bonding pads 26-30 and V overlying the opening 6 and the d .padsilr iRtwand PG overlying the p ing 7. These bonding pads are aligned with the openings 5-7 in such a manner that they will be accessible through the openings in the support.
FIG. 4 illustrates the bottom view of the support 1 showing the openings 57 with the appropriate bonding pads located above the openings.
The epoxy adhesive is then cured into a rigid solid and during the initial curing process, the viscosity of the epoxy adhesive decreases considerably prior to polymerization and hardening. This lower viscosity of the adhesive facilitates flowing of the epoxy adhesive which will not readily wet" the photoresist material thereby causing the epoxy adhexive to pull away from the photoresist material and collect in the areas around the photoresist material forming a meniscous with the wall of the openings 5-7 in the support 1.
After complete curing of the epoxy adhesive, the photoresist material is removed by conventional techniques leaving the bonding pads free from the epoxy adhesive and clean for making good electrical connections thereto.
The top surface of the semiconductor wafer which is the surface remote from the heater elements and the drive matrix elements is removed to make the semiconductor wafer as thin as desirable. This may be accomplished in one step or in multiple steps using lapping, sand blasting, or chemical etching. However, the integrity of the P-N junctions is maintained. Since the thermally sensitive materialwill be positioned on or passed over the monocrystalline surface of the semiconductor wafer, it is chemically or mechanically polished.
The semiconductor material of wafer 2 around each transistor-resistor pair of a heater element is now removed to leave the 3 X 5 array of air isolated mesas. A photoresist layer is applied over the top surface of the wafer 2 and a photomask is applied over this photoresist layer to provide the desired exposure pattern for the photoresist layer. The photoresist layer is then exposed through the photomask, developed and selectively removed to leave exposed those areas of the semiconductor surface which are to be removed. With the photoresist layer defining the desired pattern, the semiconductor material is etched down to the silicon oxide film to leave the air isolated mesa shapes as illustrated in FIG. 1.
FIG. 1 illustrates the resulting shape of the semiconductor wafer 2 wherein is located the 3 X 5 array of air isolated mesas.
Referring now to FIG. 4 and looking at the underside of the insulating support l, a metallic pattern previously applied on the underside of the insulating support 1 is to be connected with the bonding pads on the semiconductor wafer. Connections 42 are bonded between the bonding pads and the conductive strips on the underside of the insulating support 1 through the openings 5-7 in the insulating support.
As can be seen, the terminal strips 2135 in conjunction with terminal strip PG provides the input terminals for selectively energizing the heating element array which was previously discussed in connection with input terminals I I and PG of FIG. 5. The power supply terminals are provided by strips V and G to provide the ground and collector voltage connections to the system.
The thermally sensitive material for display purposes is placed in direct contact with the monocrystalline silicon mesas which are very thin thereby allowing a high degree of thermal communication between the mesas and the thermally sensitive material. The heating element array has a high degree of electrical and thermal isolation between the mesas and is particularly suitable for thermal display applications while a high density of circuit elements constituting the drive matrix may be integrated therewith with adequate electrical and thermal isolation.
The 3 X 5 rectangular array of mesa heating elements illustrated in FIG. 1 produces printed characters having vertical and horizontal lines that are continuous; however, characters having diagonal or curved lines do not print out with equal quality. This difference is particularly noticeable in characters having both rectangular lines and curved diagonal lines, such as a B or an LLR'fiQ The printing head of the invention substantially improves the quality of curved and diagonal print-out lines by providing an array of heating elements of different sizes and shapes. Such an array includes an offset geometry, i.e., an overlapping relationship between adjacent elements, not only in rectangular directions but also in diagonal directions. As a result, thermal bleeding or spreading readily occurs in the thermally sensitive material, between adjacent heated elements, in both rectangular and diagonal directions during the print step. This aspect of the invention is equally applicable to print heads having thin film heating elements, as well as to semiconductor heating elements.
FIG. 6 is an enlarged plan view of a thermal print head, illustrating a standard 5 X 5 rectangular array of heating elements and some examples of enlarged, simulated character print-outs. Actually, as pointed out earlier, thermal spreading in the print-out paper would cause the rectangular lines to be continuous, and not broken as shown.
The print head of FIG. 7 includes twenty-nine heating elements, shaped and arranged to provide overlapping boundaries between adjacent'elements in diagonal and cu'rved'line directions, as well as in rectangular directions. The simulated print-out characters shown in FIG. 7 illustrate such overlap, and the fact that thermal bleeding between adjacent elements is more readily achieved in the thermally sensitive paper or other printout medium.
FIGS. 8-10 illustrate other print head embodiments of the invention, and simulated print-out characters. Note particularly in FIG. 8 that an added effect is readily achieved by blunting" the corners of selected heating elements of the array. In the print head of FIG. 9, the embodiment of FIG. 8 is modified by omitting four heating elements, at the blacked out locations, which leaves the corresponding print-outs unaffected.
The embodiment of FIG. 10 illustrates the use of heating elements having curved sides, which has obvious utility to improve the printing of B and 8.
The print head of FIG. 1 l is the same as FIG. 10, enlarged further to show clearly that the heating elements are spaced apart a suitable distance, for example, about 4 mils. Note particularly that in no case does the corner of one heating element lie adjacent the corner of an element spaced diagonally therefrom, as in rectangular arrays. This arrangement enhances thermal spreading as noted, to provide continuous print-out lines in diagonal lines and curved lines.
1. A printing head comprising an array of selectively actuable elements, each element having a corner region selectively disposed so as to be overlapped by a boundary region of an adjacent element.
2. A thermal printhead comprising a semiconductor wafer having a plurality of electrically and thermally insulated heat dissipative mesas formed at one surface thereof, said mesas provided in an array with each respectively having a corner region selectively disposed in relationship to a boundary region of an adjacent element to provide overlap therebetween. V
3. A printing head comprising an array of selectively actuable elements of selectively variant sizes and shapes, each element having a boundary region selectively disposed so as to provide overlapping with a boundary region of an adjacent element.
4. A thermal printhead comprising a semiconductor wafer having a plurality of electrically and thermally insulated heat dissipative mesas formed at one surface thereof, said mesas provided in an array with each respectively having selectively variant sizes and shapes and a boundary region selectively disposed in relationship to a boundary region of an adjacent element to provide overlap therebetween.
5. A thermal printhead comprising a semiconductor wafer having a plurality of electrically and thermally insulated heat dissipative mesas formed at one surface thereof, said mesas respectively having different sizes and shapes and positioned to provide overlapping boundaries between adjacent elements in the diagonal and curved line directions, at least a portion of the boundary of selected elements of said array being curved.
6. A printhead as set forth in claim 3 wherein said heat dissipative elements provide overlapping boundaries between adjacent elements in the diagonal and curved line directions.
7. A printhead as set forth in claim 6 wherein at least a portion of the boundary of selected elements of said array is curved.
8. A thermal printhead comprising in combination:
a. an insulating substrate;
b. a semiconductor wafer having one face mounted on said insulating substrate by an insulating adhesive; and
c. a plurality of spaced apart semiconductor mesas formed on said wafer, said mesas positioned in an array such that boundaries between adjacent elements in diagonal and curved line directions overlap, said mesas respectively including heat dissipative means.
9. A printhead as set forth in claim 8 wherein each mesa includes a heat responsive amplifying element.
10. A printhead as set forth in claim 9 wherein each mesa includes a transistor-resistor pair, said resistor being connected to the collector electrode of said transistor, the other terminal of said resistor disposed for receiving a voltage source.
11. The thermal printhead of claim 8 wherein said mesas positioned in an array are of selectively variant sizes and shapes.